Sunday, July 5, 2009

Trip around Mt. Hood

Given the holiday weekend, many people had Friday one of my teammates had the sadistic idea of riding what was to be the "Hell of the Cascades Race" loop which from where we started was just a little over 91 miles and somewhere between 7500 - 8000 feet of total climbing.

Here is the "Races" elevation profile, which has a little less riding than what we did, though it starts in the town of Odel, which was our 1/2 way point:

The ride started out in Welches, OR at around 9:30 am with fairly low temps at the time. We had 7 team members and 3 club members joining us on the ride. A right turn out of Welches for maybe a mile than a left turn up Lolo Pass Rd. This was the first climb of the day and immediately started climbing for a while...approximately 2000 feet of climbing with several miles of 6%-8% grades.

Being the first climb of the day and everybody feeling good we all hit it fairly hard...harder than we should have. One of my teammates took off like a "ROCKET" up the climb just destroying everybody in the process. However, he has been recovering from a broken collar bone among other injuries and has been stuck on his trainer for the last several months so getting out was good for him :)

I did my best to stay within threshold on the climb, but went over for about 15 minutes of the climb...not bad, but probably a bit hard considering the day ahead.

At the top of the climb we had a 5 mile gravel descent (though there were a few small hills thrown in as well). We started down the hill keeping things in check given the gravel road, then went up a small incline. At the top there was a minivan stopped in the middle of the road that I didn't pay much attention to thinking they were changing a flat tire. Then a teammate said "We should help them"...then I turned around and noticed the car in the ditch...some good observational skills by me :S

The Minivan had a strap hooked up to the car, but couldn't get them out due to it being high sided on some rocks. So we helped dig out some of the rocks, then got in front of the car and pushed while the Minivan pulled. After a bit of rocking it we were able to get it out of the ditch...Good deed for the day accomplished!!! :D

From there we continued our gravel downhill descent...which then turned into a "Euro" type narrow, twisty road that was a lot of fun to go down.

Once at the bottom of the road things leveled off for a while with it being a slight downhill, but a few rollers into the town of Odel. It was here where we re-fueled loading up on water and a little food.

From this point the ride turned into a death march. We had a 25 mile, 4300 foot (or so) climb out of Odel up HWY 35. I've never done a climb this long before and it just seemed to go on forever. A few teammates took off over the first small incline and I didn't want to push it too hard knowing we were going to be climbing for a while (though not sure for how long). We had a short downhill from there where we caught back up to them.

From there we had 6 of us together and 4 back and we stayed together for a while until the heat, hill and dehydration started kicking in. One of my teammates fell off the back after a few miles (later to find out he was putting out 200 watts with a HR of 180 BPM). Another rider, one of the club guys dropped off the pace a mile or so later. The rest of us kept pushing the pace working our way up the mountain.

About 15 miles into the climb we stopped off at a river to take a break, dip our hats into the water and cool off. It was now around 95 degrees out and we were all over heating a bit. We were also starting to run low on water and we still had a long time to go. At least one of my teammates was smart bringing an iodine pill to drop in a bottle so he could fill up on some river water...which ended up going to one of my teammates who was almost out and hurting pretty bad at the time.

After we all re-grouped at the river, we started back on our way up the climb. We again split up fairly quickly with the climbers pushing the pace. I stayed with them for the next 9 miles or so until one of them picked up the pace again...knowing I could maintain 320 watts at this point in the ride, I backed off and held a high tempo pace to get over the top...which seemed like it was never going to come. The other two slowly pulled away from me, until one of them popped...big time! He started falling back and I started catching up to him. About 200 meters from the top of the climb I caught up to him and went by him thinking he would jump on my wheel and follow me down the descent. I started the descent, looked back and he was nowhere to be seen. I think he was passed by another teammate before cresting the top of the climb.

On the way down this descent I ran out of water...somewhere around mile 72 - 74. Knowing it was a 91 mile ride I did the math and thought to my self...."OH CRAP"

At the bottom of the descent we had another climb that went for a mile or two...which turned out to lead to Government Camp...which I didn't know about at the time. Up this climb there was a waterfall on the side of the road that I was just a hair from stopping and jumping under to cool looked sooooo refreshing at the time. The thought also ran through my mind...I could just fill up on water there and if I get sick...they have medications for it...but I passed on the idea and kept pedaling.

Near the top of the climb I saw a sign "Rest Stop" ahead and knew there would be water there which made me feel better. When I crested the top not only was there a rest stop, but a convenience store and a town...I was soooo happy :) I filled back up on water, had a diet Mt. Dew and a cliff bar and aside from the legs freezing up from not riding I was feeling better. We all waited to re-group at this point.

From here it was all downhill back to Welches...and I still went through a bottles worth of water.

Back at Welches one of my teammates has a house there where we were all able to take showers which made us all feel better. Then we headed out for some food...a nice 10" pizza fit the bill nicely.

With dead legs, some mild dehydration and some good memories of a lot of pain...we all headed back home. It was an epic day on the bike and a beautiful ride with some great teammates. Total ride time for me was 5 hours and 17 minutes with 92.3 miles ridden.

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